African Union

What is the African Union?

The African Union (AU) was established in 2001 by the Constitutive Act in Lomé, Togo, and is a multilateral organisation which promotes cooperation on economic and political issues and in other areas of common interest among African countries. It is built on democratic principles, good governance and human rights.

It replaced the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the first regional body created in 1963 primarily to help liberate African States from colonisation, eradicate apartheid and promote economic cooperation among Member States. The OAU was abolished by its chairperson Thabo Mbeki in 2002.

The OAU, often branded a 'talking shop', came under fire for its failure to take action against its Member States' blatant disregard for their citizens' human rights and was nick-named 'The Dictators' Club'.

The decision-making body of the AU is the AU Assembly of Heads of State. The AU is made up of 54 States – all African States bar Morocco, which opposes the membership of Western Sahara as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which Morocco claims as its own territory.

The Constitutive Act of the African Union puts special emphasis on the importance of civil society's role in the continent's development.

What does it do on children's rights?

The AU has a number of mechanisms that work on children's rights, including: